Is Biden Good For India?

One of the most fiercely contested elections in the US elections has finally concluded. During the campaigning phase, both the candidates were moving neck and neck in the polls. Rather than searching for the best casino websites and games on CasinoPoint.in, players were busy surfing betting websites to place bets on who the winner would […]

One of the most fiercely contested elections in the US elections has finally concluded. During the campaigning phase, both the candidates were moving neck and neck in the polls. Rather than searching for the best casino websites and games on CasinoPoint.in, players were busy surfing betting websites to place bets on who the winner would be. After a long wait for counting to be over, and amidst unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, a clear picture has finally emerged. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have finally crossed the finish line, and are all set to take over the reins of the USA on 20th January 2021.

As Indians, one of the first questions that are likely to pop up in our minds is `How will the India-US relations likely to be affected by this?’

Over the past two decades, the relations between India and the USA have largely remained smooth. There was a time when the USA had placed strict sanctions on India after its successful nuclear tests in 1998. Since then, however, the relationship has matured, and the USA now sees India as a stable partner in South East Asia, and as a balance to China’s growing influence.

Joe Biden, who has served two terms as the Vice President under President Obama had a largely favorable view towards India. Also, he was one of the facilitators in pushing for the landmark nuclear deal between India and the USA.

During the Trump era, two of the most contentious issues between India and the USA have been trade and immigration. Let’s try to decipher how these issues will play out under the President-elect.

Trade

As per government data, the USA was India’s top trading partner for 2019-20, with a bilateral trade of 88.75 billion dollars. Despite the self-professed closeness of Trump and Modi, and mega PR events like Howdy Modi and Namaste Trump, a big trade deal has remained elusive. On the contrary, in June 2019, the USA removed India from the list of GSP eligible countries. In 2018, the USA had imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel imported from India.

As the Biden administration comes to power, their key focus would be to rebuild the US economy which has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. With his self-professed focus on re-energizing American firms, the new administration is unlikely to change the current policy.

In fact, Biden had published a Made in America plan, in which he has proposed to restrict the imports of aluminum, steel, concrete, and other construction materials from foreign countries. Even during election campaigns, he has avoided talking about trade restrictions and tariffs, implying that he may use reductions as bait to get favorable deals from countries like India.

Immigration

Trump had been pretty vocal regarding his dislike for work visas like H1B. Indians have been the biggest beneficiaries of the skilled visa program, but Trump has termed them `very very bad´ for American workers. And sure enough, in 2017, under the `Buy American, Hire American´ order, Trump severely restricted the number of foreign contractors hired by the US government and limited the number of entry level employees who can avail H1B. Indian companies and techies were the worst affected by this move. In 2015, about 6% of first time H1B applicants were rejected, and this number swelled to around 24% in 2019. In 2020, Trump put a temporary ban on all types of work visas.

Biden had promised to roll back the bans once elected, expand highly skilled worker visas, and also remove country-based quotas. Also, students who do a doctorate in Science, technology, mathematics, and engineering would be eligible to get green cards. Any such move should greatly benefit Indians looking to move to the USA. Given the movement restrictions due to the pandemic, the decision to reverse the bans will take time to show benefits.

One area of concern for India is that, unlike Trump, the President-elect has been quite vocal regarding what he thought was a `crackdown on freedom of movement and speech in Kashmir´, and his `disappointment´ with CAA and NRC. However, these issues are unlikely to shake the core of the relationship based on basic values of democracy, equality, and freedom of religion and expression.